Pittsburgh Steelers X-Factors: Mike Wallace & Maurkice Pouncey?

Pittsburgh Steelers second year sensation, Mike Wallace, is currently preparing for his first NFL post-season game, something that any Steelers player can get used to with ease, because of how commonplace it is to find the AFC North power playing deep into the playoffs in any given year.

Likewise, rookie Pro Bowler, Maurkice Pouncey is looking for that first taste of post-season success, while veterans are trying to keep the young guns’ nerves down.

But, what makes those two so special as opposed to other Steelers’ rookies and second year players?

The fact that the two mentioned above just may be the pivotal players that sway the tide in the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.

Wallace had his breakout season after an impressive rookie performance, amassing 60 catches for 1,257 yards and hauling in 10 touchdowns, he’s now averaging just over 1,000 yards a year (total yards: 2,013) and is one catch away from his 100th career reception. But, what makes Mike Wallace so special (if you follow this blog regularly, you’ll soon learn that I’m a huge Mike Wallace fan) is his blazing speed.

Sometimes it seems like he has two speeds – fast and faster, something that Ravens defensive backs know all too well, and if they forgot, will find out soon enough. Wallace was asked to replace Santonio Holmes this season, and did more than fill the former Super Bowl MVP’s shoes – he surpassed Santonio Holmes’ in terms of talent, and well, in terms of receiving yardage too. In fact, in one season, Wallace caught 10 touchdowns. Whereas Holmes, in comparison, caught 20 touchdowns in four years with the Steelers.

But, enough about Wallace. Onto the Pro Bowl rookie center – Maurkice Pouncey.

This Florida product was more than just God’s gift to Tim Tebow (Tim Tebow’s gift to Tim Tebow?), he’s a legitimate powerhouse that has a GREAT career ahead of him with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He manhandles defensive tackles, and has the speed and footwork to get to the next level to lead block for the running back against tough linebackers and quick defensive backs.

He has already been compared by many to Steeler’s (and all time NFL) greats Mike Webster (Hall Of Fame – 1997) and Dermontti Dawson (who is once again a Hall Of Fame Finalist). If that’s not great company, I don’t know how it could get much better. And, keep in mind, he has not even approached his ceiling as far as talent potential.

His pivotal matchup is going to be against some of the best defensive players in the game, including future Hall Of Famer Ray Lewis, who is going to be in the rookies face a lot on Saturday in an attempt to force some heavy pressure up the middle along with behemoth defensive linemen Haloit Ngata and Kelly Gregg.

With Wallace and Pouncey coming on strong and getting their first taste of the post-season, along with relatively young key personnel such as Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Rashard Mendenhall, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers have a great chance at giving these two another full course meal of playoff football.

Don’t forget to follow Steel Hurtin’ on Twitter and add us on Facebook as well.

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~ by Steel Hurtin on January 12, 2011.

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